Leash training a dog is an exceptional skill that not only instills discipline in your dog but also ensures their safety in the world. While dogs may initially be resistant to leash training, it is important that we dog parents properly train them with leashes (even if we don’t plan to use it in the long run). So, how does one leash train a dog? We’ll share everything you need to know.
When to Start Leash Training a Dog?
It is ideal to start house training your puppy around 4 to 6 weeks. If your puppy or dog is older than 6 weeks, you can start leash training right away.
Tools Needed to Leash Train a Dog:
Before you start training your dog on a leash, you should do the following:
- Find a fitting collar and a suitable leash for your dog
- Have treats or other rewards on hand for your dog (initially)
- Carry a marker such as a clicker to praise your dog’s good behavior. Praising him with the command “yes!” works as well.
Steps to Leash Train a Dog:
- Introduce your dog to a collar and leash:
Let the dog get used to a collar and leash before training them to walk. Allow your pet to drag the leash around the house attached to his collar, making him comfortable but not afraid of a leash. Make sure your dog doesn’t get tangled. Please pick up the leash occasionally and call the dog to offer treats when he comes.
- Plan short training sessions in familiar places:
Your pet dog may have a short attention span so make use of the time when you have their full attention and focus, to train them. Start with a little walk around the house or a place that they are already pretty familiar with. This way, they won’t break off in a dozen directions to smell the new and exciting odors around them!
- Praise good behavior:
When you are walking your dog on a loose leash, also called “heeling,” heap on the praise and reward him with an occasional treat. Never pull your dog forcefully towards you. If he resists leaving a place, pulling on the lead can potentially injure him. Instead, reward him for obeying when you call him to keep walking along. If he is particularly determined, you might have to interrupt and redirect his attention back to the walk and away from the smells that are tempting him.
- Keep a short leash:
Walking with your dog on a short leash is essential to train them successfully. The less room your dog has to stray away from your side, the easier it is to learn to walk next to you. As soon as your dog starts getting the hang of things, you can let out the lead slightly, either with a retractable leash or by giving some slack to the leash end in you hands.
- Keep your dog at your side:
Like a short leash, walking with your dog beside you instead of in front or behind you allows you to control his movement. When dogs walk out in front or behind you, they wander off and smell everything.Ultimately walking your pet dog beside you will limit the leash from getting all tangled.
- Allot time to do his business:
For most dogs, a nice long walk is an opportunity for him to free himself. However, dogs naturally fancy to mark out their own little territory, so they may desire to sniff around to find the best spot. If you find your dog needs to relieve himself, you can stop walking and provide him more leash to explore and do his job. Once he is finished, be sure to reward him with praise or treats as you’re likely to potty train them at this time too. Keep in mind that dogs do not always evacuate their bladder at once, so some dogs may look for multiple urination spots. It would be best if you rewarded him only the first time. Otherwise, he will understand positive associations with marking multiple times, making a much more difficult walk. When he realizes he only gets one chance to relieve himself, he will understand that that is the ideal behavior.
- Find a pace:
Dogs are curious creatures, so they tend to rush to certain spots on your walk or even settle in to their favorite spots. It’s important to pick a comfortable pace for both of you. If you find your dog struggling to maintain a certain pace, stop and wait for him to come back to you and then restore the comfortable pace.
What to Do if General Training Tips Do Not Work?
If your dog is pulling in the other direction, stand still, refusing to move until your dog returns to you. Do not draw or tug the leash, and do not pull your dog along with you. Front-hook harnesses and head halters are helpful for training dogs that tend to pull.
If your dog is proactive and goes after something during the walk, redirect the dog’s attention with a treat. Diverting the dog’s attention will avoid any chance to jump and create more space between your dog and the target. This kind of behavior is more common in herding groups of dogs, but any dog can explore, so it is recommended to stay alert while walking your dog.
If your dog barks at other dogs while walking, it might be because of lack of exercise and training. Ensure your dog is adequately trained and mentally stimulated to avoid such behavior. If the problem continues, divert your dog’s attention to you and create enough space between your dog and the target.